Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs and Enterprise Dara Calleary has welcomed the drop in unemployment revealed in the latest Quarterly National Household survey, and has warned the Government against complacency about the ongoing jobs crisis, particularly in the border and south east regions.

“The overall drop in unemployment is most welcome and is a tribute to the resilience of Irish business. The figures point to an encouraging trend, and they vindicate the extremely difficult decisions that were made to get the economy back on track at the height of the economic crisis,” said Deputy Calleary.

“I have real concerns about the stark contrast in the level of the progress between Dublin and other parts of the country. Unemployment has actually increased in the border region over the past two years, from 14.6% in 2011 to 15.2% now. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the South East region is 16.6% – a full 3.6% higher than the national average. There has also been a worrying fall of 22,000 in the numbers of 25-34 year olds in the labour force. This shows that emigration is hitting this age bracket the hardest, and this will have long term consequences for the economy.

“The Government must now resist the temptation to bask in self-praise and ignore the very real challenges still facing those looking for work and those who want to create jobs.

“Unfortunately, the Government parties seem unable to help themselves and have already misrepresented the figures with a self-congratulatory press conference over-egging their achievements. For example, SMEs will be bewildered to see Ministers pat themselves on the back today for tackling the credit crisis when the reality is that the Government is badly behind target in this area. The Microenterprise Loan Fund, The Seed and Venture Capital Scheme, the Credit Guarantee Scheme and the SME Credit Fund have produced very limited results to date. According to ISME, 57% of SMEs applying for credit are being turned down.

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to the ongoing jobs crisis. We need to recognise and support the activities of the job creators. We also need a more balanced regional approach to job creation and a targeted youth unemployment plan to provide real opportunities to our graduates and younger job seekers.”